US 20060052683 A1
A biomedical electrode for transmitting and/or receiving electrical signals to/from a patient is disclosed. The electrode includes a metallized fabric, wherein metallization of the fabric is connected at least on a top side and a bottom side of the fabric so as to uniformly transmit or receive the electrical signals. A conductive gel adhesive in contact with the metallized fabric. The electrode can be fabricated using a continuous web process, thereby reducing the cost of manufacturing the electrode.
1. A biomedical electrode for transmitting and/or receiving electrical signals to/from a patient, comprising:
a metallized fabric, wherein metallization of the fabric is connected at least on a top side and a bottom side of the fabric so as to uniformly transmit or receive the electrical signals; and
a conductive gel adhesive in contact with the metallized fabric.
2. The electrode of
3. The electrode of
4. The electrode of
5. The electrode of
6. The electrode of
7. The electrode of
a tab formed on the electrode; and
a conductive wire lead coupled to the metallized fabric at the tab.
8. The electrode of
9. The electrode of
10. The electrode of
11. The electrode of
a backing material in contact with the gel adhesive; and
at least one conductive fabric strip bonded to the backing material or the gel, wherein the conductive yarn is substantially normal to the conductive fabric strip.
14. The electrode of
15. The electrode of
16. The electrode of
17. The electrode of
18. The electrode of
This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Application Nos. 60/602,188, filed on Aug. 17, 2004, and 60/643,676, filed on Jan. 13, 2005, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
There are many designs for biomedical electrodes. Typically, these electrodes include a conductive adhesive hydrogel, which is in contact with a patient's skin, a conductive material in contact with the hydrogel so as to apply a uniform voltage or current to the gel, and a wire from the conductive material to a voltage source. Additionally, the electrodes may be covered by a protective dielectric film, such as, for example, Vinyl, Polyethylene, Polystyrene and Polyester.
U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 20030134545 to McAdams teaches the use of a conductive silver ink coated on a thin substrate having a sheet resistivity of between 0.01 and 50 ohms/□. The substrate can be a polyester film or other suitable film. According to McAdams, the conductive silver coating has an irregular surface with a 4 μm peak to trough height, which could cause hot spots due to non-uniform current distribution.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,038,796 to Axelgaard discloses a conductive element that uses a weave or a knit fabric, wherein strands within the weave include stainless steel wire having a diameter of 8 microns. The wires are spaced apart from one another using a non-conducting fiber. The resulting diamond pattern of the weave provides a conductive fabric having improved stretchability and conformity around and/or between body extremities. Conductive gel fills in the interstitial space and reduces hot spots.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,934,383 to Glumac discloses a vapor deposited conductive film on polyester film. More specifically, Glumac discloses an electrode that uses a combination of a polymer film and a conductive layer to provide equalized current distribution and homogeneous impedance over the stimulating surface of the electrode. The combination of the conductive layer and polymer film can either be laminated together or vapor deposited. This enables placement of an electrical stud anywhere on the conductive layer, thereby providing for equalized current distribution.
While the above cited art presents improvements for biomedical electrodes, they each suffer from a number of technical problems. For example, the use of silver ink as disclosed in McAdams is quite inefficient. The silver flakes carried in fluid binder or ink must cause electrical tunneling in a fairly thick “0.0003” coating to be conductive. Hence, dry ink would have only a tiny fraction of the bulk conductivity of silver metal. Further, the binder and solvents in the ink can outgas and interact with the conductive gel, and the ink is quite expensive.
With respect to the technique disclosed in Axelgaard, costs can be relatively high and the resulting fabric may suffer from relatively low conductivity and uniformity. Further, production problems can arise, wherein die-cutting blades are dulled over time from cutting through the stainless steel wires. Additionally, stainless steel and other metals have a coefficient of thermal expansion of 10×10−6/° F., while plastics and polymers have expansion coefficients 2-3 times greater than metals. Due to the significantly different coefficients of thermal expansion, bowing or curling of the electrode assembly may result under some ambient thermal excursions. Also, shipping and storage may cause some delamination, resulting in potential hot spots. Embedding the fabric between two layers of gel may alleviate the problem, but will further add to the complexity of the assembly.
It is possible to use metallized films, wherein a layer of conductive material can be electrolytically deposited on a polymeric film. However, since the film (polymer) acts as a barrier, only one side is coated because there is a dielectric non-conducting film. If both sides were coated, only one side would effectively contact the gel. In any case, both the ink-coated or metallized film tends to be stiff and inflexible compared to a thin fabric.
With respect to the teachings of Glumac, a thick conductivity layer (e.g., 100-1000 Angstroms) must be deposited in order to achieve good sheet conductivity. However, these thick coatings can scratch and easily degrade, resulting in only one side being in contact with the gel.
In order to avoid hot spots (e.g., non-uniform distribution of current or voltage to the patient's skin in the area under the electrode), it is desirable to have a contacting conductive layer next to the gel that has a high conductivity. This material should be compatible with the gel, have sufficient surface area to provide good adhesive contact with the gel, be thin, flexible, stretchable, rugged and conform to body shapes, yet be easily processed, die cut and low in cost.
According to one aspect, there is provided a biomedical electrode that incorporates electrolytically plated or metallized woven ripstock, non-woven fabric, yarn and/or knitted mesh. The fabric can be thin, flexible, uniform, and highly conformable. More specifically, loosely woven or non-woven fabric can be electrolytically metallized such that it is conductive on both sides (e.g., top and bottom), and can include one or more micron thick layers of conductive metal. Further, it may be desirable to use metallized yarn in contact with the adhesive gel to provide a highly conductive means of uniformly distributing a voltage and current. The fabric can comprise a highly conductive porous material that can prevent hot spots and is superior in construction, adhesion and versatility.
These permeable and highly conductive fabrics are advantageous, for example, in that they enable superior contact with a conductive adhesive gel, and they can uniformly distribute a voltage due their higher conductivity (e.g., >0.1 ohms/□ for the fabric compared to 30 ohms/□ or higher for a gel). The fabrics also are flexible and conformable, thereby enabling simplified construction and application. Further, silver coatings can be employed that are compatible with the gel and, therefore, long-term degradation of the gel/fabric interface is minimized or eliminated. The fabric can be conductive on both sides as well as through the entire fabric, allowing for good all-around conductivity and versatility in the manner in which lead wires can be connected to biomedical equipment. Additionally, the highly conductive fabric, which uniformly distributes a voltage, enables a reusable wire to be connected to each electrode (as opposed to a dedicated or permanent connection), thereby saving the time and expense associated with installation of the wires into the electrode.
According to one embodiment, there is provided a biomedical electrode for transmitting and/or receiving electrical signals to/from a patient. The electrode includes a metallized fabric, wherein metallization of the fabric is connected at least on a top side and a bottom side of the fabric so as to uniformly transmit or receive the electrical signals, and a conductive gel adhesive in contact with the metallized fabric. The electrode also can include a release liner, such as a polymer film, in contact with the conductive gel, and an adhesive dielectric fabric layer or film attached to the metallized fabric.
The metallized fabric can include at least one of metallized woven ripstock, metallized non-woven fabric, metallized knitted mesh, or metallized yarn, and can have a copper coating and a nickel over coating. Alternatively the metallized fabric can be a tin metallized fabric. Further, the metallized fabric can be a conductive porous fabric, and/or can include a silver coating having a conductivity of about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms/□.
In another embodiment, the electrode can include a tab formed on the electrode and a conductive wire lead coupled to the metallized fabric at the tab. The conductive wire can be stapled, sewn or clipped to the metallized fabric, and can be attached above or below an interface formed between the metallized fabric and the conductive gel.
In yet another embodiment, the metallized fabric of the electrode can include a metallized yarn, and adjacent threads of metallized yarn can have a spacing between about one to five times a thickness of the gel adhesive. The electrode can include a backing material in contact with the gel adhesive, and at least one conductive fabric strip can be bonded to the backing material or the gel, wherein the conductive yarn is substantially normal to the conductive fabric strip.
In another embodiment, the biomedical electrode includes a release liner, a conductive gel formed on the release liner, a conductive fabric formed on the conductive gel, and a dielectric film formed on the conductive fabric, wherein the release liner, conductive gel, conductive fabric and dielectric film are formed as a serpentine pattern. The conductive fabric can be conductive on both a top side and a bottom side of the fabric so as to uniformly transmit or receive the electrical signals, and at least one conductor can be attached to the conductive fabric. The electrode can have a spiral or round shaped.
In yet another embodiment, a method of making a biomedical electrode for transmitting and/or receiving electrical signals to/from a patient is disclosed. The method is performed using a continuous web process, including the steps of: depositing a conductive gel layer on a continuous web of release liner; placing metallized fabric layer on the layer of conductive gel; bonding a backing material to the metallized fabric layer; cutting the combined layers to form at least one electrode.
The electrode can be cut in a serpentine pattern, and the cut can be a serrated cut. Further, a dielectric coating or adhesive film can be applied on the web of material, wherein, for example, the web is dipped in the dielectric coating or the web is run through a curtain coating system.
The sheet resistivity of the gel (the second layer 14) can be determined by Equation 1, wherein W is the sheet width in centimeters, L is the sheet length in centimeters, ρ1 is the volume resistivity in ohm-cm, t is the thickness in centimeters, and ρ is the sheet resistivity in ohms/□.
For example, a sheet having a volume resistivity of 1500 ohm-cm, a thickness of 35 mils and a width W equal to the length L, results in a sheet resistivity of 16,873 ohms/□.
A third layer 16 of the electrode 10 is formed above the second layer 14 and comprises a metallized woven or non-woven fabric, such as ripstock or non-woven conductive material, for example. The measured sheet resistivity of various conductive metallized fabric ripstock or non-woven metallized material is about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms/□. Laird Industries sells ripstock and non-woven conductive material under the trade name Flectron. Flectron is formed from strong, flexible and conformable nylon having an overall thickness of about 0.005 inches, and is metallized with a copper coating and nickel overcoating to provide a corrosion resistant and highly conductive fabric (e.g., 0.1 ohms/□). An alternative conductive ripstock is sold by Argentum Medical, LLC under the trade name Silverlon. Alternatively, tin metallized fabric can be used as the third layer 16 in place of the above commercial offerings.
The above described conductive fabrics were developed to provide electrostatic and electromagnetic shielding for electronic components and assemblies.
Other conductive, metallized ripstock and non-woven fabric and yarns and fibers are offered by Sauquoit Industries. The metallized ripstock offered by Sauquoit Industries is metallized with a silver coating and is rugged, conformable and has a conductivity of about 0.1 ohms/□ measured on either side. Preferably, the electrode 10 utilizes a silver fabric ripstock as the third layer 16, although any metallized fabrics can be used. The ripstock and non-woven material is somewhat porous and provides excellent adhesion to gel or any other adhesive. Because its conductivity is more than five orders of magnitude greater than adhesive gel, the ripstock and/or non-woven fabric will distribute a current and voltage quite evenly (silver is the most conductive metal and is compatible with most gels). A conductive wire lead 18 or the like can be fastened (e.g., stapled or sewn to form a tab 20 or the like) to a corner 22 of the third layer 16 (e.g., the metallized fabric). The tab 20 can be used to pull the electrode 10 from the patient (e.g., provide a secure grasping point for removing the electrode from the patient), as shown in
The ripstock and non-woven material offered by Sauquoit is quite robust, so that removal and application to a patient's skin can be accomplished using the corner wire 18 and/or tab 20. The wire 18 can be attached either below or above the gel-metallized fabric interface (e.g., above or below the interface between the second layer 14 and the third layer 16) which will reduce cost associated to standard wiring, and, as noted above, can be sewn in place, stapled or used with a conductive clip.
Because the conductive interface fabric is a polymer (nylon or polyester), thermal expansion and contraction should be the same for all components. Further, the silver coating in the third layer 16 according to the preferred embodiment is very conductive and thin so that the material is easily die cut without dulling knife blades. An adhesive dielectric fabric layer or film 24, such as, for example, a polyester film or other similar thin films, can be bonded to the third layer 16 or coated on the third layer 16.
Sauquoit Industries also offers a metallized yarn, which can be used to fabricate the conductive elements of the electrode in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, e.g., metallized yarn is used instead of the metallized woven fabric. The metallized yarn is offered as a metallized filament or yarn, and can be stretched 20-30% along its length. The yarn 30 will easily adhere to the conductive gel (the second layer 14) and stay in place as shown in
It is noted that the fabric assembly in accordance with the invention also can be used to fabricate EKG electrodes as shown in
Moving now to
The basic concept uses in-line web production for all layers and assembly, which greatly reduces cost. The electrodes may be of any size and may be round, square or any other shape. The serpentine die cut can be of any size, such as, for example, from 1/32″ to ½″ wide. This results in a “wire” or connector of any length depending on the die cut and the size of the electrode.
In the example shown in
The resistance of the “wire” or serpentine die cut is the fabric resistivity, e.g., about 0.1 ohms/□. Thus, for a serpentine die cut having a length of 16.5 inches and a width of 0.125 inches, the resistance would be 13.2 ohms.
Typically the resistance of the gel skin interface is 30 ohms or higher and, thus, the resistance of the wire is a small percentage of the electrode. The advantages of this design are many. For example:
It should be noted that while an example of a fabricated electrode is shown, many other configurations may be used. Further, in the example given, the steps may be altered and the first layer 62 may be a heavy dielectric coating.
Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to a certain preferred embodiment or embodiments, it is obvious that equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of this specification and the annexed drawings. In particular regard to the various functions performed by the above described elements (components, assemblies, devices, compositions, etc.), the terms (including a reference to a “means”) used to describe such elements are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any element which performs the specified function of the described element (i.e., that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed structure which performs the function in the herein illustrated exemplary embodiment or embodiments of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been described above with respect to only one or more of several illustrated embodiments, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other embodiments, as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application.